Scientists Link Increased Deforestation To Zoonotic Disease Outbreaks : Short Wave There's evidence deforestation has gotten worse under the pandemic. It's especially troubling news. Scientists are discovering a strong correlation between deforestation and disease outbreaks. NPR correspondent Nathan Rott talks to Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong.

The Link Between Deforestation and Disease

The Link Between Deforestation and Disease

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/892404302/892443985" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

A tree in a deforested area in the middle of the Amazon. Scientists are discovering a strong correlation between deforestation and disease outbreaks. Raphael Alves/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption
Raphael Alves/AFP via Getty Images

A tree in a deforested area in the middle of the Amazon. Scientists are discovering a strong correlation between deforestation and disease outbreaks.

Raphael Alves/AFP via Getty Images

Deforestation has gotten worse under the pandemic. With the coronavirus occupying global attention, there's less regulation of logging and mining operations. It's worrisome news, because scientists are discovering a strong correlation between deforestation and disease outbreaks.

A 2017 paper linked recent forest loss to 25 Ebola outbreaks that have occurred since 1976.

NPR national correspondent Nathan Rott speaks with Short Wave reporter Emily Kwong about the challenges faced by tropical forests — environments rich in biodiversity. Human activity is fragmenting those habitats. How does that result in an increased risk of animals-borne diseases transmitting to humans? And what can be done to protect those forests?

You can read Nathan Rott's reporting on the link between deforestation and disease here.

Follow Nathan Rott on Twitter at @NathanRott and Emily Kwong at @emilykwong1234. Email the show at shortwave@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Abby Wendle, fact-checked by Emily Kwong, and edited by Viet Le.

Correction July 25, 2020

In a previous version of this podcast, we incorrectly said that the 2013 Ebola outbreak likely started when a boy played near a tree filled with fruit bats. Scientists believe the tree was actually infested with insectivorous bats.